By Lauren Anderson
As the Diocese of Florida’s annual convention gathered at St. John’s Church in Tallahassee, the congregation sang a hymn that had never been sung before. “In Every Place Where God Is Found” was commissioned in celebration of the Diocese of Florida’s 175th anniversary to communicate the diocese’s anniversary theme of “Procession: Unified in Mission”:
In every place where God is praised by many or by few;
in every heart where prayer breathes life and hope begins anew;
where ever searching leads to faith or love melts hearts of stone;
where new life rises from death’s hold;
God’s presence will be known.
As clergy and lay leaders processed and more than 400 people joined in singing the hymn, the theme of unity in mission came to life, said the Rev. David C. Killeen, rector of St. John’s.
“Right here in the state capital, downtown, there was this sense of witness to the wider world in procession into the church,” Killeen said.
Composed by Carl P. Daw, Jr., to the tune of “Kingsfold,” “In Every Place” exemplifies the diocese’s anniversary theme.
“It’s about God’s people processing through the wilderness. God was present wherever they were, whether the promised land or wilderness. You got that sense as we sung that hymn,” Killeen said. “For me, the theme is that it is in humble service to others that we find our true freedom, in the wilderness or promised-land times of our lives.”
Known for an exceptional music program, St. John’s also added its own touch to the hymn. Florida State University student and St. John’s choir member Zach Goldstein wrote a special descant.
Beyond the music itself, the congregation appreciated the content of the song. The hymn communicates the diocese’s mission, Killeen said, which includes caring for overlooked people. Since 2009, the diocese has been caring for men and women of the armed forces by providing spiritual retreats. The diocese has also been involved in prison ministry and providing health services for the rural poor.
“We’re listening closely to the needs of the world and respond to them,” Killen said. “That’s gospel ministry.”
The diocese will continue to celebrate its 175th anniversary throughout the year with various events, including a family festivities day, historic churches tour, and pilgrimage to the seven churches of Turkey.
“Where we are right now is forward-looking with a great sense of hope and expectation,” Killeen said. “The theme of ‘procession’ means we are a people not aimlessly wandering, but a people called to a mission with a great sense of urgency.”
Image by Ladyheart/morgueFile